Vancouver Island is a great place to visit from both the British Columbia mainland and Washington State. It is home to cute towns, BC’s capital city, and gorgeous provincial parks. Here are the 15 attractions you have to visit when exploring the island.
Long Beach is one of three parts that make up the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The other two units are the Broken Group of Islands and the West Coast Trail. The beach is the largest, and longest, on Vancouver Island’s west coast. It lies in Wickaninnish Bay, between Tofino and Ucluelet. Long Beach is popular with everyone, including surfers, wildlife watchers, kayakers, and swimmers. It’s also why Tofino is known as Canada’s surf capital.
The Old Country Market near Coombs on Vancouver Island is world famous for its sloping grass roof that is home to several goats. In addition to saying hello to the roof’s residents, there are plenty of treats to enjoy at Old Country Market, including a gift shop, imported groceries, a deli, delicious ice cream, a take-out taqueria joint, Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria, The Market Restaurant, Wabisabi Surf Shop, and so much more.
The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, is a great hiking trail that everyone can enjoy. The Wild Pacific Trail was created by local Oyster Jim Martin, who began construction on the trail’s three routes in 1999; they include the Lighthouse Loop, Brown’s Beach to Artist Loops, and the coastal Rocky Bluffs Trail, which has an additional Ancient Cedar section too.
Greenpeace calls Clayoquot Sound “an ecological treasure of global significance”. It includes water, inlets, islands, and one of the world’s most famous coastal temperate rainforests: 265,000 hectares that’s home to 45 endangered or threatened animal species. Due to its importance, it became British Columbia’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000. August and September is the best time to visit to view black bears.
Cape Scott Provincial Park lies on Vancouver Island’s northwestern tip. It was established in 1973 and named after the park’s lighthouse. It’s an area many visitors don’t get to explore, but its sandy beaches, rainforest, and rocky coastline are worth the trip north. There are more than 18.6 miles (30km) of remote beaches in Cape Scott, with Nels Bight being the most impressive and popular. It also has many hiking trails, such as the Cape Scott Trail and all of its extensions, which are listed in detail on the BC Parks website.
Chemainus, located in the Cowichan Valley in southeastern Vancouver Island, began as a logging town in 1858. Today, it is known for its world-famous outdoor murals, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The 39 murals mostly depict moments and people of local historical significance. There are arrows leading visitors to each painting, which is great for children. As well as the murals, the town is home to many independent stores, such as a Christmas shop and a delectable sweets store.
Butchart Gardens are a 55 acre (22 hectare) floral wonderland and National Historic Site on Vancouver Island, receiving more than a million visitors annually. The gardens, near Victoria, are famous around the world and perfect to visit year-round. Spring is when the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths bloom; summer comes with entertainment, nighttime illuminations, and a fireworks show. The Japanese Garden shines in fall, and it’s all about the lights and the Magic of Christmas event in winter.